On the first night of his journey, Scream found he didn’t sleep well at all. He kept waking up, afraid he would fall out of the tree. So, with the coming of the dawn, he decided he should find a good vine he could use as a rope, to hold himself in place while he slept at night. Or, he had to learn to sleep on the ground, which his mother had suggested he not do. He also noticed that he slept bent at funny angles, so he was stiff, and sore when he woke up. And sleeping in a tree, he felt as if his body had tried to conform to the shape of the tree. It took a while for the pattern of the tree bark to fade from his skin that morning.
He concluded the journey would be a bit more difficult than he’d expected. But, that was OK. Rose and her sisters would be there at the end of his journey. He’d spend some time with them, and have fun.
He continued to move from tree to tree. The trees continued to grow taller. And the woodland changed into a forest. There was no clear line or marker. But somehow, Scream knew he’d reached the edge of the Northern Forest.
He saw several wolves that day. It amazed him how silently something the size of a wolf could move through the forest. Along the ground. Through the brush, the fallen tree limbs, and the dead leaves along the ground. From his perch high above the ground, he watched each wolf he encountered. He even followed one for a time. The wolves were not just silent. They were very quick. Able to cover large distances easily, and rapidly. And they did not tire easily.
Scream also saw an eagle. And several hawks. The eagle was majestic. The way it rode the air currents, its wings extended, catching the wind and gliding along. He saw the eagle’s tail feathers adjusting to keep its flight level. He decided that one day, he would learn to soar through the sky, effortlessly, like that eagle. Riding the wind, and not endlessly flapping his wings to just stay aloft.
The hawks flew in much the same way. But they flew lower, closer to the ground. And they used their wings more frequently. Scream was surprised to see a hawk fold its wings, and plummet toward the ground, extending its wings just before reaching the ground, extending its talons, and capturing a small rabbit as it flapped its wings and returned to the sky. The hawk had landed in a tree, and started consuming its prey.
The raw power and grace of the hawk making it’s kill convinced Scream that a skilled warrior knew, and used technique to best his opponent. A skilled warrior knew, as that hawk knew, that technique provided a warrior an edge in battle.
Scream saw many bird nests on his journey. He stayed a safe distance from them, so he didn’t frighten the parents, or their young. After seeing several bird nests, he realized he didn’t have to tie himself to a tree. He could use tree limbs and leaves to make a small, temporary nest of his own to sleep in. It would take practice, and it would take time. But he knew he could learn. And he felt that learning to build simple places to rest in the trees would allow him to sleep better on his trip, and would keep him from falling out of the tree while he slept.
“Mother,” he thought, “you were right. There is much we can learn about life simply by watching the animals. The animals were here before we were. They know how to live in the forest, in the sea, on the land.” His appreciation of his mother increased. He remembered Mystica’s home, and the homes of her daughters, in the trees. Made by the trees. How natural they were. How simple. How solid. How safe. He could learn much about living in the forest from them.
He had plenty of water to drink that day. He found a stream of water running through the forest. He realized there were a lot of streams and rivers in the forest. There was plenty of water to drink, and plenty of water for things to grow. It was something he hadn’t expected. He’d expected trees, and water to be separate. Much like the river and the lake where Rose lived. He didn’t expect them to be so thoroughly mixed together.
He decided to take a bath in one of the streams. He splashed water all over himself. Rinsing the dust, the sweat, and the dirt of his journey off. It was refreshing to feel clean. He stayed on the ground long enough to eat some dried fish, and some of the sea weed. He marveled at the way the sunlight filtered through the trees. The way he could see beams of light passing through gaps in the limbs and leaves. The way the ground was always in shadow, never brightly lit.
While he was on the ground, he got to see a couple of deer, and a raccoon visit the edge of the stream, and drink. He got to watch the raccoon stand in the stream, and watch the water. He watched as it plunged a front leg into the stream, and pulled it out, holding a small fish. He hadn’t realized raccoons had workable hands.
He took back to the trees, when he was ready, and continued his journey. That evening, as the sun began to set, he found some tree branches that had fallen. He placed them across the gap between a couple of tree limbs, and tested the resulting surface to see if it could hold his weight. He had to try several times to get the right branches, and to get them positioned properly, so they acted like a little floor between the limbs. He covered that little floor with dead leaves.
As he prepared for sleep on the second night of his journey, he thought of Rose. Of holding her hand. Of her smile, and how it made everything seem OK. He remembered how, when he was lost, and alone, and wondered if he’d ever see his mother, and his home again, Rose had smiled at him, and held his hand. And he felt like everything was OK. Like being lost forever wouldn’t be so bad.
That night, he slept on his own little nest in the trees. And he slept well, finding he wasn’t afraid of falling. And having dreams of walking with Rose among the trees, holding her hand, and getting to see her smile.